On Tap for PedalGR – Moonlight Rides

Moon Over The Lake (by Jheat)
Flickr user: jheat/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Sunday night I invited Amy to go for a cruise to Millennium Park to take advantage of the nearly full moon and awesome weather.  We headed out around around 9:20pm and enjoyed one of the best rides I’ve had all summer.

The new trail from the Coca-Cola factory is silky smooth.  I can’t wait for all of Kent Trails to get the same treatment.  When we got to the entrance to the new Meijer Millennium Trail, I turned off the lights.  The moon lit up the night like a mini-sun.  When it shone on the trees at the right angle, it turned them an eerie silver color, almost like they were made of aluminum.  Once our eyes adjusted, even the areas under the tree canopy seemed lit well enough to see adequately.

The night was almost perfectly still and when we stopped at the observation deck overlooking two old gravel pits we could hear the fish splashing while the moon and the brightest stars were reflected in the water.   Despite the faint sound of I-196 and the mosquitoes who thought it was dinner time, it was a truly beautiful experience.

We encountered a deer on the way back, bounding across the trail 25-30 feet in front of us.  Just close enough to scare the crap out of us.  I’m sure we did the same to it.  We came across another rider as we were leaving the trail by the Coca-Cola plant, the only person we encountered the whole ride.

More people need to learn the joy of bicycling by moonlight.  To this end, I will be scheduling some PedalGR full moon night rides to Millennium Park where we can all go without lights if there is enough moonlight to do so safely.  I’ll figure out the exact times and post them here.  I’m thinking that XC ski trips may be a possibility once the trails are hidden by the cold, white stuff.  The moonlight can be even more dramatic when the landscape is covered in reflective snow! Plus, my skis didn’t leave the garage last winter and that’s just a shame!

Of course, I geeked out a bit.  Researching the date of every full moon from now until next October, I compiled the sunset, moonrise, astronomical twilight (complete dark), moonset, and sunrise into a spreadsheet using sunrisesunset.com.  Then I added in graphics showing the path of the moon through the sky from WolframAlpha (an amazing tool).  Check out the results below.

PedalGR - moon ride calendar-small

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Author: Joshua Duggan

I love bicycling. I love Grand Rapids. Even though I'm not from here (I'm from Omaha, Nebraska), I've lived here over 10 years and Grand Rapids is my new home. I'm a commuter, endurance racer, mountain biker, bicycle tourist, tandem captain, fat biker, roadie, and gravel grinder who likes to ride his bike to an occasional brewery, taco stand, or ice cream shop.

4 thoughts on “On Tap for PedalGR – Moonlight Rides”

  1. On January 30th, the full moon will make a close approach to Mars. In December, we’ve got a blue moon.

  2. Hey Josh. Again, I think this is a wonderful idea. Sign me up. Just the mere fact that you take the time to “geek out” on these things makes you a great ride leader.

  3. Happened on pedalGR via a news story about bike-friendly cities in the U.S. Looks like great fun. I’ve signed up and am looking forward to the night rides.

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